- Dell Scholars Program focuses on retention and graduation to help at-risk students overcome challenges that cause high drop-out rates -
AUSTIN, Texas – The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation announced that 300 students from across the country have been accepted into the Dell Scholars Program Class of 2012, one of the nation’s most successful college completion initiatives. The program provides its students with resources and mentoring, in addition to financial assistance, to ensure they have the support they need to stay in college and obtain a degree.
Research shows that low-income, high-risk students are more likely to drop out of college due to pressure from family responsibilities, work hours and financial difficulties. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation formulated an innovative approach to not only send these students to college, but also to address these obstacles and enable students to finish the college with a degree in hand. The approach has proven successful: 85 percent of Dell Scholars graduate in a six-year period, as compared to the national graduation rate average of 19 percent for low-income, underserved students.
“It has become clear that these at-risk students need more than just a check to be successful in graduating from college,” said Susan Dell, co-founder of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “By empowering students to develop a plan in addressing the personal issues these students face and offering them support in those areas, the Dell Scholars Program increases their likelihood of obtaining a college degree.”
Scholars become part of a support network that comprises their schools, families, peers and a dedicated Dell Scholar team at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, along with $20,000 in financial aid. The program includes wrap-around services that help scholars and their families overcome the personal challenges—such as financial, legal and personal relationship issues—that might adversely affect many students’ ability to graduate. The program also provides technology and an online community for mentoring and peer interaction.
In its selection process, the Dell Scholars Program looks beyond academic performance and grades. The program has shown that these scholars are better than what their GPA’s or test scores indicate. In fact, students do not need high grades to apply. The Dell Scholars Program rewards students for their determination to achieve great things through higher education, and it recognizes academic potential and determination in students that have a definite need for financial assistance.
The Dell Scholars Program is entering its ninth year and has helped 2,150 at-risk students. Despite the challenges in their lives, 425 were able to attend and finish college and 1,576 are currently working toward graduation. The focus of the program is completion, and the Dell Scholars Program is helping students achieve that goal one student at a time.